Sudden Silence: Hidden Voices
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Sudden Silence: Hidden Voices is an adaptation of a photo voice project funded through a Vancouver Community Action Grant. The purpose of this project is to highlight the tragedy of the overdose crisis and introduce some of those who have been lost. Their loss is most keenly felt through their loved ones. Their grief cannot be described in words and is their constant companion. This project also focusses on the impact of the stigma for using drugs and of how safe supply might have made a difference.
Photo by Gabrielle Beer
Jordan’s mom, Sharene calls Jordan a ‘miracle child.’ Jordan was diagnosed as profoundly deaf when he was 2 and a half months old. He was a happy, happy toddler and was learning to sign at a specialized school. When he was 3 and a half years old, he had a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device designed to restore the ability to perceive sounds and understand speech for individuals with a hearing loss. The cochlear implant is an amazing apparatus but it does not totally replace all aspects of hearing. Those who have an implant must learn how to use the implant and get accustomed to using it.
Jordan was an elder brother to his two siblings. He loved to get into a bit of mischief-making and was the family prankster. He was always ready for a good practical joke. He loved to take the exterior magnetic part of his implant and stick it on the fridge, just for a laugh.
Jordan was kind and loved all animals.He enjoyed his elementary school years and was a popular and happy kid.
Although he was excelling in many subjects while at secondary school, including 2 languages, when Jordan was around 14 or 15, he began to experience depression. Kids at this age are jostling for status and a place to belong and look for ways to appear cool to their peers. Unfortunately, some teens do this in a way that is unkind and damaging to others. Part of the cochlear implant is embedded inside the ear and part of the implant is external and visible to others. Some did not understand what the implant was and why Jordan had this. Due to his hearing loss, Jordan’s speech had a flat intonation with a slight accent. Some kids in his secondary school were unkind and made fun of him. Once comfortable with everyone, Jordan became uncomfortable and awkward around some of his peers, especially the girls. Jordan was really impacted by the how some of his peers treated him.
After graduating from secondary school, Jordan attended Langara. He then decided to become an electrician. It was at this time that Jordan began to smoke heroin. Eventually his girlfriend discovered what he was doing. He said he wanted to "get off. " He went to a drug treatment centre and did very well. However, he left after four months saying that he felt "really good." He believed that he was fine, and he was, for a while. Jordan was all ready to start a new job at the airport.
Then two of Jordan's friends overdosed and died. Jordan was heart broken after hearing about this. Jordan connected with a good friend and made plans to have the friend come over. As he waited, Jordan smoked what he thought was heroin. It wasn’t; it was fentanyl. Jordan collapsed in the bathroom. His girlfriend, mom, his brother and paramedics attempted to revive him but could not. Jordan was just 25.
How did the stigma surrounding drug use impact Jordan?
Jordan felt terrible about using drugs and was especially ashamed that his family and girlfriend now knew. He had tried to hide his drug use from them; he had never intended to become addicted. It was hard for him to admit, even to himself, that he was a drug user and, that he had become addicted.
How would a safe supply have impacted Jordan?
"Jordan would be alive today, no question." says Jordan's mom, Sharene.
Jordan had such a lot to offer. Jordan had remained connected to the deaf community and he was such a role model to other kids who had hearing loss. He was a huge inspiration to many.